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The Lakers will be fine. The Clippers will be scary

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We have that and more in Wednesday’s NBA newsletter.

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers
Champs.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In their first regular season game together, LeBron James and Anthony Davis looked good with glimpses of great and stretches where improvement is needed. LeBron had a tough, Kobesque shooting night (7-of-19) and turned the ball over too much (five) but had moments of glory, and Davis shot just 8-21 from the floor while putting up a solid 25-10-5 line. The Lakers lost the opener 112-102 as Danny Green was the only player on the team that really performed well outside of Davis.

The problem for the Lakers on opening night wasn’t really the Lakers. It was the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard didn’t miss a beat off his Finals MVP performance (30 points on 10-19 shooting in 31 minutes). Lou Williams looked as Lou Williams as ever. Montrezl Harrell was so good off the bench it made you wonder whether he might actually challenge Williams for the Sixth Man award. Patrick Beverley was in full Patrick Beverley mode. Most of all, the Clippers’ defense was really tough.

In Game 1 of the season. Without Paul George.

The Lakers will figure out how to best use LeBron James and Davis together, and Frank Vogel will eventually stop using his centers so much after the first few minutes of the game, no matter Davis’s opposition to playing center himself.

Will they figure out how to beat a Clippers team that has more two-way weapons than the Fortnite island? Will anyone?

Scores

Pelicans 122, Raptors 130
Lakers 102, Clippers 112

Schedule

All times ET. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Bulls at Hornets, 7 p.m.
Pistons at Pacers, 7 p.m.
Cavaliers at Magic, 7 p.m.
Timberwolves at Nets, 7:30 p.m.
Grizzlies at Heat, 7:30 p.m.
Celtics at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Wizards at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.
Knicks at Spurs, 8:30 p.m.
Thunder at Jazz, 9 p.m.
Kings at Suns, 10 p.m.
Nuggets at Blazers, 10 p.m., ESPN

Links

Pascal Siakam had a monster game, and Fred VanVleet finished the job as the Raptors opened their title defense with a victory over New Orleans. The Raptors’ rings are pretty, pretty good.

The SB Nation team made a bunch of NBA predictions. I picked the Lakers to win the title as a psychic hedge, really.

Michael Pina on the value of Jaylen Brown’s enormous extension. Matt Ellentuck grades each player extension.

Me on the promise and potential of the Lakers vs. Clippers rivalry. That first game sure felt like the start of something special.

Chinese state TV didn’t air NBA opening night and Tencent streamed only Lakers-Clippers. How’s this soft battle working out? Meanwhile, Shaquille O’Neal becomes the first prominent NBA personality to defend Daryl Morey and criticize China. The contrast between Shaq’s comments and those of Charles Barkley were absolutely striking.

Fred VanVleet’s one rule for disrespecting the NBA champ Raptors is perfect.

Here’s the fearless Graham MacAree on the reason the Astros felt comfortable acquiring a domestic abuser and then gloating about that decision in the faces of female reporters critical of said acquisition. You may think this is about baseball, but then the Lakers had injured DeMarcus Cousins sitting on their bench on opening night. Two months ago, there was an arrest warrant out for Cousins on domestic violence charges after alleged recordings of Cousins threatening his son’s mother were published by TMZ. The Lakers said the NBA had taken over the investigation. Why is Cousins sitting on the bench? Has he had any contact with the Mobile police? Why is this being normalized? If the warrant and charges have been resolved, the Lakers and the NBA should announce that they have been resolved. Otherwise, given the history of how seriously pro sports teams treat this issue (not very seriously), we’re left to assume the worst.

The Pelicans say Zion Williamson’s weight didn’t cause his knee injury.

Steve Kerr says Klay Thompson is unlikely to play this season. I don’t really believe that. I’m not sure Kerr does either.

We’re very excited to bring FanPulse to the NBA this season. You sign up , you get a weekly ballot, you fill it out, we collect the results and release the Pulse of the Fans to the world. Sign up! Give us your Pulse!

Katie Baker on Lou Williams.

Kevin O’Connor on the four title contenders.

Folks, get that coffee or tea or other stimulant. NBA opening week is relentless and beautiful. Love it and each other. And, of course, be excellent to each other.